Downloaders in Japan Face Two Years in Prison

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Under a new law that goes into effect Oct. 1, Japanese internet users who illegally download files face a 2-year prison sentence or a fine of up to 2 million yen ($25,700), the BBC reports.

Theoretically, pirating just one file could get you in jail and -- under one interpretation -- using a service such as YouTube, which temporarily stores video files on your computer, could be illegal.

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Downloading copyrighted material has been illegal in Japan since 2010, but it did not incur such penalties. Uploading, on the other hand, is a far worse offense, with a maximum 10-year prison sentence and a 10 million yen ($128,400) fine attached.

The law was passed under influence of the Recording Industry Association of Japan, which cited a 2010 study, claiming illegal downloads in the country outnumber the legal ones 10 to 1.

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Japan has been on the forefront of the anti-piracy fight in recent years. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a international treaty designed to protect intellectual property rights, was first created by the U.S. and Japan in 2006. The treaty was abandoned after a strong public movement against it in many countries, including the U.S., Hungary and Poland.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, leminuit

This story originally published on Mashable here.

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